The Brookhaven Planning Commission struck a blow to developers hoping to redevelop the Brookhaven Boys & Girls Club site into townhomes.
The commission voted Oct. 4 to recommend Brookhaven City Council deny the application to rezone the site on North Druid Hills Road to allow a 64-unit townhome development. The city council could still approve the application at its Oct. 24 council meeting.
Ashton Woods, the developer, is asking the city to rezone the property from R-75 (single-family residential) to RM-100 (multi-family residential). The developers revised plans to lower density from 74 to 64 units and moved the entrance from Sylvan Circle to Briarwood Road after community input.
In a 6-1 vote, commissioners said they had concerns the development would not fit the character of the area and the recommended uses for the area laid out in the city’s comprehensive plan.
“North Druid Hills needs to be protected as is or the change needs to be supported by the community,” Commission Chair Stan Segal said, noting the vocal opposition from the community.
About 50 community members attended the meeting. Two people, who are both involved with the Boys & Girls Club, spoke in favor of the rezoning while 10 spoke against it.
“We know change is coming, but we did not know it would come in the form of a 64-unit townhome development,” a resident said. Other residents opposed the development due to traffic concerns and many advocated for single-family homes instead.
John Funny, the sole commission member to vote in favor of the rezoning, said he feels the area needs a mix of housing, including townhome development, and that the development would be appropriate at that location since it is near the Brookhaven MARTA Station.
“If you think about where density should go, it should go close to a transit station,” Funny said.
The Brookhaven Boys & Girls Club is trying to sell its property to move to another location about four miles away in Chamblee at 2880 Dresden Drive, a property the organization already owns. The sale is contingent on the rezoning.
“As the neighborhood changed and more families that need us moved farther away, we decided we needed to be in their backyard,” Bobby Dunn, the regional director for DeKalb and Gwinnett Boys & Girls clubs, said.
The organization will officially relocate to the new location Jan. 1.
“We will not be able to do what we normally do without the sale,” Dunn said.
Developers of the proposed townhome project say they have revised their plans based on community input, including reducing the number of units from 74 to 64 and changing the entrance from Sylvan Circle to Briarwood Road. The density is lower than other townhome developments in the area, Mike Busher, the senior vice president of Ashton Woods Atlanta, said.
Even with a lower density, Segal said he was still not comfortable rezoning the property to RM-100.
“I just can’t get to RM-100, no matter the density. It’s setting the tone for all of North Druid Hills,” Segal said.
The revised plans came after input during neighborhood meetings in which residents expressed serious concerns about the proposed development about the density, possible traffic, green space and the opposition to the proposed entrance on Sylvan Circle.
The developers added a public .5-acre “pocket park” that would be maintained by the Homeowner’s Association.
After conversations with Mayor John Ernst, who asked that affordable housing be included, the developers added a “manor house”, a five-unit condo building. The condo units would range in size from 900-1,400 square feet and cost approximately $300,000, Busher said.
Ashton Woods would also donate land to the city and DeKalb County to facilitate the inclusion of a right-hand turn lane onto North Druid Hills Road from Briarwood Road.